Thursday, January 20, 2011

2011 Team Preview #13: Vassar

Max Wilner

Coach: John Cox, 1st Season
Location: Poughkeepsie, New York
Conference: Liberty League
2008 Ranking: NR
2009 Ranking: NR
2010 Ranking: 28
2011 Projected: 29

Vassar really came out of nowhere last year and apparently that was good enough to get their former coach, Ki Kroll, a very good D1 job at Southern Mississippi. Vassar tennis has slowly been on the rise the past couple years, and I think the next 2-3 years will tell us whether this program is just satisfied being ranked in the top 30 or if they want to become a true national powerhouse. They were probably a little better than their #28 year-end ranking last season, but I wouldn't call them top 20 material. This year's Vassar team should be somewhat similar despite the loss of All-American Mike Mattelson. Mattelson was very solid at the #1 spot and will stay on as assistant coach in 2011. The way they make up for his loss is with everyone else gaining a year of experience and also getting transfer Dan Freeman from Colby. Freeman will certainly play in the top 3, and although he's not as strong as Mattelson, he will still allow Vassar to have a strong top of the lineup. I can see Vassar cracking the top 25 this year, but I don't know if the top 20 is realistic. They just aren't talented enough yet and their NCAA result from last year backs that up. They can play tough doubles and hang with some of the top teams in the country, but actually getting 5 wins against a top 15 team is not easy. Instead of getting caught up in rankings, they need to focus on winning their conference because Skidmore is significantly improved from last year. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but the Liberty League still falls under Pool B for NCAAs, so Vassar doesn't need to sweat about making the tournament. Despite that, I think they can call this season a success if they manage to win the league and finish the year ranked. They play a tough schedule and will get a crack at most of the top teams in New England along with Kenyon, Johns Hopkins, and Emory at the Stag-Hen. They will learn about the level they need to reach to become a top 20 team. With the Guzick brothers and Freeman at the top, Vassar is a tricky team to beat. John Cox did great work at Kenyon and I have no doubt he will immediately have this program headed in the right direction.